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Carers Week: The forgotten victims
Carers Week is a timely reminder of the vital role that over 6 million people in the UK play.
It is about listening to those who are caring for a loved one which can hopefully lead to an open discussion as to whether more can be done to assist them.
My contribution in this brief blog post is to look at the role of a carer, who is often a family member, in caring for someone who has suffered a brain injury as a result of a negligent accident. They are, as the title infers, often the forgotten victim.
The journey of a carer
The journey of this forgotten victim begins when they receive a call that their loved one has been involved in a serious accident and they make their anxious way to the hospital, spending many days (sometimes weeks or months) neglecting their own health as they sit patiently waiting for positive news of the recovery.
When their loved one finally leaves hospital their journey does not stop there. Sadly, more often than not the person they bring home is not the person who they kissed goodbye on the morning before the accident. They have changed – irrevocably.
What follows is a lengthy period of rehabilitation involving numerous journeys to specialists and treatment centres. Their home life is now so far removed from what that had been used to. This is their new life.
I have spoken with many spouses and partners of loved ones who have sustained a brain injury. They often describe to me that it feels like they have another child in the house. Their behaviour erratic, their personality different. Perhaps the most telling phrase ever said to me is:
"This is not the person I know."
A successful personal injury claim can ensure that the injured person gets all the help that person will require in the future. This will include an element of compensation for the hours the partner has spent caring for the injured person. But does this go far enough?
Recognition for the carer
There needs to be a recognition that the carer has lost someone. That the life they once knew has gone and now they must build a new future with someone different. They are for all intents and purposes bereaved and will have to deal with the same psychological issues as those who have suffered a death in the family.
There is a uniqueness for those caring for someone who have sustained a brain injury as a result of a negligent accident. Often, the injured person has no recollection of events, does not recall their stay in hospital and has little insight into their behaviour and how it affects other people.
Yet for the loved the one they have experienced it all – the vivid memories of the person hooked up to all manner of machines in the hospital, they will experience every stumble along the journey as they try to readjust to their new way of life and then there is the anger – that all this was caused because of the negligent actions of someone.
I have worked with many good defendant insurance companies who as part of the assistance will also look to ensure that the carer is well looked after. This can include counselling and breaks. However, in my experience this is not a given. I have often met resistance to my pleas to provide direct help to the carer themselves.
The wellbeing of the carer
It is right that we pause and reflect on the heavy burden that a carer experiences. They do not do it for reward or for praise – they do it out of love. However, the care they provide can often be all consuming whilst at the same time struggling to come to terms with what has happened.
The wellbeing of a carer is vital to ensure they can continue to provide the support to the loved one.
We need to recognise the emotional turmoil they may be going through and that due to dogged stoicism they may not be willing to ask for help. We need to accept that it is often the case that it is not just the injured person who is the victim and will suffer the consequences of injury.
We need to care for the carer.
Mark Gore specialises in brain injury and other catastrophic injury compensation claims. If you would like to ask Mark a question about a claim please contact him for free advice on 01622 680409 or at MarkGore@Brachers.co.uk
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